Authors: Ted Dekker
I knew that I loved those eyes. That face. That man. In a way that I’d never loved Lamont.
He was still on his knees, staring at me as if I’d slapped him. I still had the barrel sticking through the latticework, and
I was shaking—it was so strange. But we were both killers, and I suppose that part of us didn’t know how else to behave.
“It’s love, isn’t it?” I cried.
He didn’t seem to be able to speak.
“Tell me!” I screamed.
“Grace,” he said.
“And love.” He said it softly and his eyes were shining as if he was saying something for the first time.
My world melted. I had the barrel pressed against his face and he was kneeling like a prisoner waiting for the final count,
but my need to kill him flew out of my mind.
I didn’t know much about grace, it sounded too religious for me. But love was a different story.
I thought I had loved Lamont. I thought he had loved me. But here in the confessional, I saw the truth: I had only feared
But Danny…I did not fear Danny.
I loved Danny. And Danny loved me, I mean,
We both hated injustice enough to die for it, that was the thing. He was like me and I was like him. In fact, Danny was the
only person in the whole world I could trust, a man I would rather die for than lose. He was beautiful and I loved him. I
really, truly loved him.
Yet there I was holding a gun against his teeth…
Gasping, I jerked the gun back and dropped it onto the bench, where it landed with a loud
. I spun for the door, managed to spring the latch, and flew around to his side.
Danny was coming to his feet when I crashed into his booth and threw myself at him, sobbing. He was a solid man twice my weight,
and he absorbed me with only a slight stagger.
All I could think was that a few more ounces of pressure on that trigger and I would have blown him all over the booth. It
was an agonizing realization.
I wrapped my arms around his neck and clung to him like a koala hugging a tree. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, Danny!”
I was kissing him on his neck and mouth and face as he stood still, caught completely off guard.
“Renee…” He was objecting, but he didn’t know what to say.
“No, don’t say anything more about that. I forgive you. You’re not like Lamont. If you love me, tell me to stay with you.
Tell me to run away with you.”
“Renee, you don’t know—”
“No, don’t say that, Danny! Don’t say I don’t know what I’m saying!” I was still kissing him on his face and neck. “Take me
away, please, just take me away.”
“I…I don’t know—”
“No, Danny!” I calmed myself. “Do you love me?”
I could barely see his eyes in the dim light, but I could see him blink.
“Tell me you love me.”
“I love you.” He could barely speak.
“Then tell me you’ll take me away from here.” I spoke in a rush, as eager for his words as for water in the desert. “Tell
me you’ll protect me and never let anyone ever hurt me again. Tell me that, please tell me that.”
“I…” His voice was shaking. “I will never let anyone hurt you again.”
“Tell me you will never kill anyone again,” I said.
“Tell me we will always love each other.”
He nodded and said it while kissing my forehead and my hair, returning my embrace. “Always. Always, always. I am so sorry,
my dear. I am so very sorry.”
“This is love, Danny.”
Danny began to sob. “Yes!” I thought that he might either melt in all his tears or come apart in my arms because he was shaking
so hard. “Yes…”
“I love you, Danny.”
We stood in that confessional, holding each other like two lost children, and I knew then that all the lies were finished.
Lamont had been a monster, I knew that now, and maybe Danny had been one, too, and I as well for that matter—all monsters.
But it was over. The law, the rules, the deceit to cover it all up, the failure, the revenge, the judging, the failure, the
endless cycle of not being good enough—all of it was over.
Love and grace had found us finally.
We had each other, and even if our reprieve lasted only one night, it would be a night that would last forever.
I let Danny hold me close and we wept.
Three Months Later
I can remember
some things about myself but not everything, because I’ve chosen to leave a few things in the past. My name, Renee Gilmore,
is something I will never forget—how could I, after hearing it spoken by Danny so lovingly and so often, as if it were cotton
candy and he was tasting it for the very first time.
Danny walked into the sunroom overlooking the valley, handed me a steaming cup of coffee, and settled into the chair next
to mine. Our house was small, only nine hundred square feet, not including the porches or the barn. Our lives were simple,
though we had more than enough money to last us many years. Our love was sure. “It’s a beautiful morning,” he said, gazing
out the window. I’d awakened to the sweeping valley before us every morning for ten weeks, and I hadn’t tired of the stunning
view. It was all so green, with meadows that sloped up to a sharp tree line. The houses that spotted the meadows were white
stone with shake-shingle roofs steep enough to shed the snow, because there would be a lot of it, Danny said.
“It’s perfect,” I said, taking his hand in mine.
I had been reborn many times in the last eighteen months. But not like the time both Danny and I found new life in the confessional
at Saint Paul Catholic Church in Long Beach, California. We wept and we begged each other for forgiveness and then we collected
what we had and fled the building.
Long Beach was only a memory. California was far behind us. We moved to a small town in Bosnia, not so far from Sarajevo.
“How much longer?” I asked a variation on that same question nearly every morning, not because I thought Danny knew, but because
I wanted to hear his answer.
“A couple of months,” he said.
“That’s still a long time,” I said.
“Not long enough.”
“Not nearly.” But it was enough for now. “And then what?”
He squeezed my hand and offered a comforting smile. “And then we will go to the authorities and confess our sins.”
“What will they do to us?”
“They’ll put us in prison.”
We would make the front page, Danny had said. They would call us monsters. They would lock us up and Barbara Walters would
ask for an interview. Life would never be the same. This said with a wry smile that always made me chuckle.
We’d been married in a small chapel in Sarajevo two weeks after leaving the States, one day after Danny got his requested
discharge from the priesthood. He’d insisted, and I couldn’t pretend I wanted to be together any less than he did.
“What if they give us the death penalty?” I asked.
“Then we’ll die knowing that turning ourselves in was right,” he said.
“They were all very nasty people,” I said. “They deserved to die.”
“They did. But then so do we.”
“So do we.”
This was our mantra and it usually ended here. But today I wanted to ask another question before we took our weekly walk down
to the village square.
“Danny, do you mind if I make a confession?”
“I would be disappointed if you did not,” he said.
“I mean, to a priest.”
“Other than me?”
“You’re no longer a priest.”
He considered my question for a few moments. “And you would tell him everything?”
“If that would be okay with you.”
Danny looked out across the valley. “Yes. Yes, it’s the very least you deserve.”
Did I tell you I like Danny?
“I love you,” I said.
“And I love you, Renee.”
His answer never changes. Danny is my rock and I will cling to him always. If that’s only two more months, then those months
will last me a lifetime.
Father Andro stopped
in front of his bookcase where he’d been pacing, finger on his chin, bound to my every word as I finished the story. His
head turned toward me.
“And that’s it?”
“That’s not enough?”
He crossed to his desk. “Forgive me, of course. Yes, of course it’s enough. Dear God.”
It had taken me three long evenings to tell him everything and with each passing hour I felt my burden lift, if only because
another person in a position of some authority had heard me without so much as judging either me or Danny once through the
many hours. He said it was enough, but I actually think he was a little disappointed that it was all over. It’s not often
one hears such a gripping and true tale, not even in Bosnia.
“What do you think?” I asked.
Father Andro eased down into his chair, picked up his teacup which was long ago dry, and absently set it back down. He lifted
his bushy eyebrows.
“As a priest?”
I shrugged. “As a man.”
“I think that your Danny has finally learned what he set out to learn. I think he would now make an excellent priest.”
“Hmm…Can a prisoner on death row function as a priest?”
“Yes, there is that.”
“And what about me, Father?”
He studied me for a long time, then leaned back in his chair.
“I think Danny is a fortunate man to have learned such a hard lesson with such a wonderful person as you,” he said with a
Father Andro nodded once. “A very fortunate man indeed.”
Ted Dekker is a
New York Times
bestselling author of more than twenty novels. He is known for stories that combine adrenaline-laced plots with incredible
confrontations between good and evil. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and children.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are
used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2011 by Ted Dekker
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First eBook Edition: April 2011